Joey Barton offers Paul Gascoigne warning


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The Independent Football

Joey Barton has warned that Paul Gascoigne can only win his battle with the bottle if he helps himself.

The Queen's Park Rangers midfielder, on a season's loan with Marseilles, overcame his own demons with alcoholism after working with Peter Kay from charity The Sporting Chance. Gascoigne is recovering in a Phoenix hospital after a number of former team-mates, including Gary Lineker, paid for him to be admitted last week in a bid to combat his addiction.

Barton wrote on his personal blog yesterday that the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has been paying Gascoigne's rent "for several years and without fanfare". However, Barton believes it is now down to the former Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder to ensure there is no relapse and warned that "handouts" are not a long-term solution.

"Tough love is a better approach; let Paul start to take actions himself with the hands of support around him," Barton wrote.

"Let's not rely on special funds because he was a special player it sets a dangerous, unsustainable precedent. Offer Paul a choice. If he agrees full support, full support should be offered. If not, stop paying his rent and funding his lifestyle. I have been told that Paul only accepted to go to treatment this time if the country he would rehab in was of a good climate, so as he could get a 'good tan'. I was staggered when I was told this."

Barton served 77 days of a six-month jail term in 2008 after an assault in his home-town of Liverpool. He claims to have been tee-total since but admitted that it remains a daily struggle.

"I thought that if I didn't drink then things would be ok, and admittedly that is the start. But if you take away the drug which at a level helped, it has to be replaced with an alternative. Otherwise, like me, you'll walk around like a bomb waiting to fuse… Unmedicated with alcohol, the volcano starts to erupt, gently at first and then it becomes an enduring flow of unstoppable lava."